"HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world and is a risk factor for several cancers, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, oropharyngeal (throat/tonsil), anal and penile cancer," said Eduardo Franco, lead researcher and professor at the McGill University in Canada.

"Our work provides additional evidence that HPV is sexually transmitted to the oral tract through oral-oral and oral-genital contact," Franco added.

Understanding how HPV is transmitted is important because it will help us identify who is most at risk for HPV infection and how we can help them protect themselves and their partners, he pointed out.

The researchers looked at HPV infections in 222 men and their female partners and found that among men in the study, the prevalence of oral HPV was 7.2 percent.

These numbers were higher for men who were smokers (12.2 percent), those who were in non-monogamous relationships (17.9 percent), and those who had a partner with oral HPV infection (28.6 percent) and/or genital HPV infection (11.5 percent).

Participants completed a questionnaire about their sexual history and provided oral and vaginal or penile/scrotal samples.

None of the 52 men who never smoked cigarettes, were in a monogamous relationship, and had a partner without oral or genital HPV, had HPV infection.

The study appeared in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers; Prevention journal.

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